Barnard College announced this week that it will provide medication abortions for students by next fall in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade earlier this year and states across the country adopting abortion restrictions.
Marina Catallozzi, vice president of health and wellness and chief health officer for the New York City college, and Leslie Grinage, vice president for campus life and student experience and dean of the college, released a statement Thursday saying that “Barnard applies a reproductive justice and gender-affirming framework to all of its student health and well-being services, and particularly to reproductive healthcare.”
The administrators noted that abortion access has not changed in New York after the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that established the right to an abortion across the country.
But they explained that “we are also preparing in the event that there is a barrier to access in the future, for any reason,” and that “Barnard will expand student options by ensuring that our campus providers are prepared and trained in the provision of medication abortion by Fall 2023.”
Barnard is a private women’s college in New York City. It is not the first school to offer “abortion pills.” The University of California, Berkeley, offered the option before the Supreme Court overturned Roe.
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Abortion by pill is used in more than half of abortions in the United States, according to research from the Guttmacher Institute. During a medication abortion, a patient may take mifepristone and another medication, misoprostol, to end a pregnancy that is less than 70 days developed.
The Education Department released guidance Tuesday highlighting that Title IX bars discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, abortion and other related conditions. Schools have to treat “pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, and recovery therefrom the same as any other temporary disability,” regarding policies for students and more.
Colleges and universities across the country, often tasked with providing some level of medical care to students, are also grappling with how to address abortion access in the wake of the Supreme Court decision. Universities in Idaho made headlines last month after warning employees not to refer students to abortion services, and at least one school has urged staff not to tell students how to obtain birth control or emergency contraception.
Vice President Kamala Harris, during a meeting of the Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access, argued that “if there were a national law that was passed in the United States Congress to protect reproductive care, so-called leaders then could not ban abortion, even in the cases of rape and incest. “
“They could not criminalize providers,” she said. “They could not limit access to contraception if Congress passed a law that protected these rights.”